Department of Justice rejected Judge Hanen’s order in immigration case

Photo: NYIC.
Photo: NYIC.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has responded to the demand by Judge Andrew Hanen that the records of 50,000 DACA recipients be turned over to him as part of the lawsuit currently before the Supreme Court in the case of United States v. Texas.

The DOJ says that the judge’s order, which most observers consider outrageous, will cost the Federal government millions of dollars. Even worse, it will undermine the trust that immigrants place in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to safeguard their personal information. The DOJ writes in its brief that “requiring the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to produce ‘all personal identifiers’ and ‘all available contact information’ for approximately 50,000 individuals by June 10, 2016, could undermine public trust in DHS’s commitment to protecting the confidential information contained in immigration files.”

The information that the judge is ordering would be under legal seal, meaning that it would not be public, however, the DOJ says that the handover will still lead to widespread fear in immigrant communities. “The production of sensitive personal information in such large quantities would be very likely to undermine individuals’ trust in DHS’s ability to maintain the confidentiality of personal information provided to it,” according to the DOJ.

Judge Hanen’s order is vague as to exactly what information needs to be turned over, but the Obama’s administration is interpreting the requirement as covering “all contact information that is practically available by that deadline, namely, all contact information available in DHS’s main electronic database, which includes A-numbers, names, addresses, and dates of deferred action.”

The DOJ warns that the order will have a chilling effect on future immigrants coming forward to the DHS. According to the brief “the disclosure of their sensitive personal information, requiring the United States to produce that information to the Court and potentially to the States would deter aliens from providing the Government with personal information that is critical to the administration and enforcement of immigration laws in any number of circumstances.” This would undermine the effective enforcement of many different immigration laws.

George Washington Law School Professor Orin Kerr described Judge Hanen’s demand as an “odd order” in the Washington Post. Stephen Gillers, professor of law at NYU, told the New York Times this week that Hanen’s order was “both precipitous and excessive.” Both statements are true.

But Judge Hanen’s order is not out of character. Anti-immigrant conservative governors brought this case in South Texas to try to get Hanen as the trial judge. He is one of the most ideologically conservative judges on the Federal bench. He is opposed to immigrants and to the Obama administration. His court has become a political battleground in the growing war against immigrants and he has used all the means at his disposal to keep immigrants in the shadows.

Read the New York Times story HERE.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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